Published on October 30th, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley0
Halloween 2013: Edgar Allan Poe
It’s my favourite time of year, where the dying Autumn meets the silence of the Winter, it is All Hallow’s Eve tomorrow and where loud children will screetch and howl at your door, refusing apples and demanding money and everybody wears ridiculous clothes that are a few shades darker than ordinary clothes. It is a night of peril and… poverty. Also it’s this site’s 1st Anniversary, so, in order to celebrate these two dreadful unisonous occurrences, I am going to introduce you to the terrible, macabre world of my favourite author, Edgar Allan Poe.
Widely known for his poems and short stories concerning horror, he is an Author’s author, known to have inspired writers from the likes of Jules Verne and H.P. Lovecraft and is even the inventor of detective-fiction and lost world genres, his most popular work is The Raven, a poem about an ominous raven, but you could find that anywhere, we are here today to look at some of his other, lesser known stories.
Stories like Metzengerstein, a delightful little tale about a newly appointed duke of a long lineaged family, the Metzengersteins, whose feud he has gleefully inherited with the local rival family Berlifitzing. Upon a recent mischievous venture, the rival’s head is killed in a stable fire, shortly afterwards a mysterious black steed appears that strikes fear into the hearts of all it encounters.
This is one of the various Germanic-influenced pieces of Poe’s, of which there are a number, the story is interesting and has a sinister vibe, with little information being divulged about the character’s and experiences. Unlike Lovecraft, Poe often affects an emotive personal and physically descriptive tone to the horrors of which he speaks, whereas Lovecraft prefers to just speak of “undescribable” or “unimaginable” horrors that the narrator has seen and proceeds to go in depth about the exact kind of fear they are now feeling. Poe still manages to describe the fearful object despite much of the tale being expressed through other characters. It’s a great little piece and would make a great ghost story for children.
The Unparalleled Adventure of one Hans Pfall
Edgar Allan Poe is often known as greatly contributing to the foundation of Science-Fiction as a genre, The Unparalleled Adventure of one Hans Pfall, is an example of Poe figuratively and literally pushing the boundaries of fiction. The story follows the strange happenings in Rotterdam, where a young indebted man takes to the skies in a home-made hot air balloon to escape his creditors. His aim is to reach the moon, which he believes is possible if he keeps going higher.
Obviously balloons of this kind were on a recent invention when Poe wrote the story, so the very idea of reaching space was unhindered with any solid scientific fact, however clever use of the then-current information and seemingly logical thinking offers unique and clever tale concerning journeying to space.
Why the little Frenchman wears his hand in a sling
A rather short, relatively unknown and rather demanding piece, Poe frequently wrote satirical stories, with many of his horror tales aimed at poking fun at tropes, groups of people or in some cases, individuals. This story is an outright comedy, and is an unusual example of phonetic writing. The entire length is written in Irish Brogue of the 19th C. It tells the story of an Irishman’s rivalry with a Frenchman for the attentions of a lady they are both amorously attempting to pursue, with hilarious consequence.
The Mystery of Marie Rogêt
As the inventor of “Detective Fiction”, Poe’s stories of C. Auguste Dupin predate Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock, and as previously mentioned in my review of A Study in Scarlet, inspires and informs Doyle’s most famous creation. The most well-known of Poe’s detective tales is ‘The Murders in Rue Morgue’, but the lesser known ‘The Mystery of Marie Rogêt’ is much less dated and confusing. Based on a real life crime, the novel concerns Dupin’s investigation of the murder of a girl, whose body was found dumped in a river in Paris.
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket
Yet another accomplishment was the first ever “lost world” story, well at least the beginnings of one. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket is the only novel Poe ever wrote, about a young man who stows away on a whaling ship and many misadventures ensue, but further talk of this novel will be for perhaps another time.
The Cask of Amontillado
And lastly, my favourite of his short stories, The Cask of Amontillado. This was the first ever piece of adult fiction I ever read as a child and, along with the Evil Dead films, is what got me into horror in such a big way.
The tale begins at a carnival, where a vengeful Montresor leads a drunkenly disillusioned Fortunato down into a cellar under the guise of retrieving an expensive pipe of Amontillado sherry wine.
The piece was written from the viewpoint of the perpetrator and is notable as being a literary attack on a writer at the time with whom Poe was having a public feud.
I love this story, its incredibly dark and the foreboding Montresor bounces fantastically off Fortunato and his jovial mood, making the story wonderfully twisted. As a child I had never seen anything which so straightly portrayed an obvious bad guy as the protagonist, however the complexity of some of the story meant it wasn’t for a while that I could enjoy it fully.
Whatever your terrible fantasy, there’s something here for your diabolic needs this Halloween, so stop browsing yet another cthulhu-based card game and set your sights on the macabre, and somewhat more imaginable world of Edgar Allan Poe…